In Between Black Beans and Quinoa with Mustard Seeds

by Maria Theresa Maggi on March 14, 2013

black beans,  quinoa with mustard seeds, seared banana, arugula greens

I never was any good at multiple choice tests. I hated committing to one narrow answer over another. Give me an essay anytime, where I can include subtleties, nuances. The same thing goes for cooking. I like to be inclusive, and I have a really hard time making decisions that eliminate. Sometimes when I cook black beans, I think I want them “refried” style. Other times I’d rather have them whole, in chili, or soup, or tossed on top of salad. But more often than not, I can’t decide. So I’ve come up with a way to have my cake—er, beans, mashed–and eat them whole, too.

I first came up with this when I was wanting a Mexican style topping for my FFVK style  potato pizzas. I wanted some tomato on top, but not tomato sauce. So I rehydrated some of my dried tomatoes and came up with this prototype. It turned out to be mighty tasty on those potatoes, along with other veggies and a bit of pineapple, too. But this time I wanted something spicy but not too spicy. Mixed but not too mixed. And I wanted it on top of some quinoa and greens. I fancied this up with 3 elements of recipes from plant based veterans: Anne Esselstyn’s Mustard Seed Quinoa in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,Lindsay Nixon’s Black Beans and Plantains at Happy Herbivore blog. And Susan’s Chipotle Barbeque Tofu at Fat FreeVegan Kitchen blog.

Anne Esselstyn’s recipe for Mustard Seed Quinoa relies on broiled onions. In fact she says the onions make the recipe. But I was actually unimpressed with the onions, so I skip them altogether. And I don’t follow her directions for cooking the quinoa or adding the mustard seeds either. What I am left with is the wonderful idea of putting quinoa and brown mustard seeds together. I usually lightly toast my quinoa before adding water to the pot to cook it. So I hit on the idea of heating up the pot and adding the mustard seeds first. Once they start popping, then I add the quinoa. After I stir it all around until both are nice and aromatic, then I add the  cooking water. This produces a nice flavor to the cooked quinoa that simply adding the mustard seeds at the end doesn’t provide. And at the end, to zip it up further, I stir in a good teaspoon or so of lime zest if I have it, and a small clove of miscroplaned garlic. The results are yummy.

To Susan I owe the inclusion of the chipotle in adobo to the black beans. I so fell in love with the sweet smoky flavor of her chipotle barbeque sauce for tofu in the recipe linked to above that even though I don’t eat tofu anymore I try to include chipotle in adobo in Mexican style dishes as often as I can (though in my case less is definitely more).

And finally, I have Lindsay at Happy Herbivore to thank for the idea of garnishing this meal with some fried banana pieces. She has them standing in for plantains in the recipe linked to above, and they are a magical addition to this meal as well.

So you don’t have to decide either/or when making a good meal.  And you don’t have to choose to follow just one recipe to a tee. You can piece and patch together, mix and match cooking styles and flavors, even add unexpected ones. And it comes out delicious.



I kind of went crazy taking pictures of this meal, just for fun. So here are a few more shots of the process:

quinoa, whole lime, lime zest, soaking water from dried tomatoes, microplane grater



paste of black beans, dried tomato, chipotle in adobo sauce, cumin, garlic, soaking water from tomatoes


black beans in dried tomato chipotle in adobo paste, quinoa, seared banana, cilantro, arugula


Maria (moonwatcher)

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marcia March 15, 2013 at 8:34 am

Thanks so much Maria, this looks wonderful! With the addition of the bananas, it strikes me as even being good for breakfast! But I love dinner or lunch for breakfast and then breakfast for lunch or dinner!

I’d like to suggest another lovely lady for you to check out for recipes. Her name is Tess Challis and she, too, is amazing. She currently has 3 cookbooks with another coming out soon. Tess has a wonderful sense of humor and it shines through in each recipe. Her recipes are delightful, creative, and very low in fat. Hers were the first recipes I found that actually sounded interesting in the plant based/vegan style. You can find her on Facebook or visit her website: You won’t be disappointed! Thanks again, I look forward to reading your blogs and trying your recipes.


2 moonwatcher March 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

Hi Marica,

Thanks! I loved reading about how you like to eat dinner or lunch for breakfast and the other way around! And thanks for telling me about Tess Challis. I went to check out her site–it looks great!



3 Sean March 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

I didnt like the mustard seeds in the quinoa


4 moonwatcher March 17, 2013 at 11:42 am

Thanks for trying it out, and letting me know, Sean.



5 janet @ the taste space March 27, 2013 at 11:15 am

I like how you combined different elements together. I do the same thing when i can’t decide what to make!

(PS, I am tickled pink that Marcia recommended Tess. I ADORE her (and I wish more people knew about her). Her recipes turned me vegan. I have only recently started experimenting with Linday’s and so far, so good). 🙂


6 Jessica Drollette April 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I am so excited to try this recipe and was extatic to see that you live in Moscow! 😀


7 moonwatcher April 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Welcome, Jessica, and thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the recipe! Do you live in this neck of the woods, too?


8 moonwatcher April 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Welcome, Jessica, and thanks for reading!! It looks like we BOTH live in Moscow. We must meet!!


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